LION Heart Boxing Promotions, whose chief finance officer Edward Mendy, last year made a trip to Zimbabwe with an aim to invest here but had to endure 10 days of frustration and lack of co-operation from both the Zimbabwe National Boxing Control Board and the Ministry of Sport, have signed on Justin Mayweather.
Justin is the son to the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer, Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
Although finer details of the contract could not be established, a post on youtube (<http://youtu.be/mIj57JuP5Zs>) shows the American Boxing Promotion company’s new signing in the gym undergoing padwork under the tutelage of his legendary father in readiness for a fight ahead of a debut bout on the card of a forthcoming Lion Heart boxing bill.
Mendy, who was in Zimbabwe between February 27-March 9, 2015 in anticipation of a historic boxing deal aimed at resuscitating the ailing sport from its deathbed, in a post made public yesterday stated: “We just signed him!” (Justin).
The third generation offspring of the Mayweather clan (Justin), is trained by his father (Floyd Mayweather Jnr) currently rated by Forbes magazine as the best paid and most successful athlete in the world who a few months ago spiked his gloves after a 49-0 record in the welterweight division.
Arguably one of the best pugilists to emerge in the world, Floyd Jnr’s historic May 2 2015 fight against Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, shattered the domestic pay per view revenue which was pegged in the excess of $440 million (minus additional revenue from the gate, international television distribution, sponsorships, closed circuit and merchandie sales). Nick-named TBE (The Best Ever) Floyd Jnr was trained by his father, Floyd Snr, and it is not surprising that he is imparting the same skills onto his own son in a family-line strategy that could earn the Mayweathers a slot in the Guinness World Book of Records.
What is ironic in this new development is the fact that the new handlers of Justin — Lion Heart Boxing Promotions — sent Mendy, all the way from Kinnelon, New Jersey, to Harare with an aim to help revive local boxing and on February 27 2015.
Mendy literally had his trolley pushed from the Arrivals Lounge at Harare International Airport by WBC international champion and Zimbabwe Sportsman of the Year 2014-15, Charles Manyuchi.
While he harboured ambitious plans to assist Manyuchi develop his career on the global boxing ring, he, however, had spanners thrown into his intentions by a seemingly defiant local boxing control authority who not only refused him a license but basic courtesy and hospitality befitting a keen investor of his stature.
This was despite the fact that the American, during his extended 10-day stay in the country (as he had to abort several other trips on his itinerary) went to the extent of enduring a 800km trip by road to Victoria Falls for a meeting with ZTA Chief Executive, Karikoga Kaseke, with an aim to package Zimbabwe as an ideal tourism destination to a rather hostile but large American market using the nine television channels that his company has a cordial working relationship with.
They include ESPN3. Currently, Lion Heart broadcast their fights to 165 million American cable homes.
Beginning next month (March), Lion Heart Boxing Promotions Ltd, in association with Roy Englebrecht Promotions and Thursday Night Fights, will be introducing a new boxing concept dubbed the Grand Prix Boxing, an exciting new series to be held at various casino venues in the US.
The Genesis Episode (Premier) is expected to rope in another major TV channel, HBO (which had sole rights to broadcast Floyd Mayweather’s fights), and will see the champion’s purse pegged at $500 000 from a single event budget of $1,5 million.
Manyuchi’s net earnings from the WBC defence of his title in Italy was $9 000.
Braving the exhaustive ride by road to the resort town of Vic Falls owing to the unavailability of extra seats on the local airline — Air Zimbabwe — Mendy last year also had a meeting with former Sports Minister, Andrew Langa, at the Elephant Hills Hotel on the sidelines of President Mugabe’s 91st birthday celebrations, with the then Minister promising him the full co-operation of his office.
Langa allegedly later reneged on the promise by denying him the chance to invest in the ailing sport on the ill-advice of the bloated boxing authority.
The American, during the week-long working visit that later turned barren, also had a meeting with officials from the local national broadcaster, ZBC-TV, where he expressed a desire to offer them free television rights had the deal sailed through.
Armed with a fight proposal which his company had packaged and dubbed “Africa Fight Night”, the company was expected to begin its series at the HICC with a rich card featuring two-time Commonwealth champion Danny Williams against Tamsanqa Dube, as well as former world and Namibian light-heavyweight champion Harry “The Terminator” Simon (30-0), American prospect Omari Braxton and Ali Bayat from Dubai.
“As the undercard, WBC international champion (Charles) Manyuchi will defend his title on home soil for the first time ever or just do a rating fight (subject to approval of his Zambian promoter). Manyuchi is currently the most internationally-recognised Zimbabwean boxer and has been plying his trade in Zambia since 2012 for lack of options at home,” Mendy wrote to the national boxing authority, in an email (dated March 4, 2015) which he also copied to the Ministry of Sport.
Owing to the grossly negative reception given to the potential sports investment guest, it is evident the company has since “permanently” turned its back on the country and vowed never to consider doing business with any boxing authority, company, promoter or boxer from Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, the clock continues to tick for Manyuchi to defend his title or risk having it stripped by the world sanctioning body, WBC.
In a communique dated January 5, 2016 (which was copied to WBC vice-president Houcine Houichi), the Chairman of the WBC international committee, Mauro Betto, wrote to request details of the Zimbabwean’s defence plans which are supposed to have happened within a duration of six months from his previous fight.
Manyuchi last fought Gianlucca Frezza in July last year, which means he has held onto his title for too long and the WBC have a right to strip him of it title according to the rules and regulations governing the sport. The ‘reminder’ from Betto, originating from his office in Rome diplomatically reads:
“It would be very nice to register a WBC International Championship in Zimbabwe this year. Charles is a great talent indeed. I had the opportunity to know him last summer in Italy.
“I spoke personally to him after the fight he easily won and advised him to moderate his behaviour in the ring.
“He is definitely a good guy, but sometimes he offends his opponent with disrespectful behaviour that has nothing to do with the noble art — a true champion should always respect his opponent. I am sure that Charles will have a bright future in the WBC.
“Please provide us with the following details: date of the fight, city of the fight, name of the selected challenger and name of the official promoter.”
Should nothing happening towards having this gifted boxer he risks joining the list of other local champions who had their titles stripped. Among them are Tamsanqa Dube (former World Boxing Association Pan African heavyweight champion), Tinei Maridzo (former Africa World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight champion) and Elvis Moyo (former World Boxing Federation heavyweight champion).